Not everyone is happy with Waymo’s self-driving cars, report says

waymo orders thousands of chrysler pacifica minivans self driving car softens in pedestrian collison

Waymo’s test fleet of self-driving cars has covered more than 8 million miles on public roads, and the company is implementing ambitious plans to bulk up that fleet and launch a public ridesharing service in Arizona later this year. But Waymo’s autonomous-driving tech may not be ready for prime time, according to a new report.

The Information talked to Arizona residents who live in areas where Waymo tests its autonomous cars. They said the Waymo cars seem to have difficulty in certain traffic situations, such as making left turns across lanes with fast-moving traffic, and merging onto highways in heavy traffic. The cars also stop and brake abruptly, according to the report.

“As the only company with a fleet of fully self-driving cars on public roads, our vehicles are continually learning and we’ve developed robust testing processes that will allow us to safely expand our vehicles’ driverless capabilities over time,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNET. “Safety remains our highest priority as we test and deploy our technology.

Part of the problem seems to be that Waymo’s self-driving cars are more cautious than the human drivers they share the road with. The cars stop for a full three seconds at every stop sign, and try to maintain a wide berth by making turns. Anyone who has spent time behind the wheel knows that most human drivers aren’t so conservative.

Just as cautious self-driving cars cause frustration for human drivers, humans’ unpredictability can flummox Waymo’s cars, according to The Information. Autonomous cars are programmed to follow the rules of the road, but they don’t always know what to do when other road users break those rules. It’s a problem also experienced by other companies testing prototype self-driving cars in California, but it will have to be solved. A car that only works if everyone and everything follows the rules will be pretty much useless in the real world.

It’s also worth noting that Arizona is a best-case scenario for self-driving car testing. Consistently clear weather means Waymo doesn’t have to worry about snow or rain interfering with cars’ sensors. Waymo has also meticulously mapped all of the areas where its self-driving cars operate. Repeating that process for every part of the country will be extremely labor intensive, slowing the deployment of self-driving cars elsewhere.

Waymo’s current fleet of self-driving cars are prototypes, and its technology could improve over time. But it’s unclear how long that will take, and Waymo is pushing to launch an autonomous ridesharing service in Arizona later this year. For now, Arizona residents may just have to get used to waiting longer at stop signs.

Cars

Automakers are spending billions on self-driving technology people are afraid of

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on developing the technology that will power self-driving cars, but research shows consumers have no interest in giving up control. Will they ever recoup their investment?
Cars

Nuro’s awesome robot delivery pods are tootling into Texas

Robo-delivery startup Nuro is taking its cool-looking autonomous delivery pods to Texas. The pods will deliver Kroger groceries to customers' doors in Houston following a successful pilot program in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Cars

Ford to expand autonomous-car research in race to launch robo-taxi service

Ford is in a race with Waymo and GM Cruise to launch large-scale taxi and delivery services using autonomous vehicles. Already testing its technology in four U.S. cities, the automaker looks set to expand its program to a fifth.
Cars

Nearly 3 in 4 Americans are reportedly afraid of self-driving cars, study says

The latest AAA consumer survey finds most Americans fear self-driving cars. Few people would trust autonomous vehicles to transport people they care about. However, 53 percent of consumers think most cars will be fully autonomous by 2029.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.
Cars

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.
Cars

Unrestrained by heritage, Polestar sets its sights on becoming a digital brand

With no heritage to worry about, Polestar is free to move full-speed ahead towards its goal of becoming a digital brand. All of the company's upcoming models will be electric, and they will inaugurate an Android-powered infotainment system.
Cars

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.
Cars

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?
Cars

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.
Cars

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.